Vitamin D is important throughout life to help keep our bones and teeth healthy.
Most of our Vitamin D is made in our skin when exposed to sunlight. The amount of sunlight required does vary but generally it is thought that 10-15 minutes of sun on the face, arms and legs between 11am and 3pm on a few days a week is enough. Care must be taken never to allow the skin to turn red or burn as this will increase the risk of skin cancer.
People with darker skin will need longer periods of sun exposure as the pigment in their skin blocks the absorption of ultraviolet (UV) light needed to make Vitamin D.
However, in the UK, we do not have enough UV light between October and April to make Vitamin D in our skin and so we rely on our body stores and food sources for our Vitamin D over the winter months.
Unfortunately, there are very few rich sources of Vitamin D in our foods. Oily fish, e.g. salmon, tuna, mackerel and fish oils, e.g. cod liver oil, are the best natural sources. There are also some breakfast cereals which are now fortified with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D Supplements
In order to maintain a healthy Vitamin D level, it is now recommended that all people over 65 years should take a daily Vitamin D supplement which can be bought over the counter from the chemist. We are not able to prescribe it.
There are many different types available and the choice can be confusing.
The recommended supplement should contain:
Vitamin D (sometimes shown as D3 or colecalciferol); NB no extra calcium needed
Strength: 400 units (400IU), which is the same as 10 micrograms (10 µg) per day.
For example, Boots Vitamin D 10 µg – 90 tablets = £2.19 (3 months supply)
Please note, you do not need extra Vitamin D if you are already being prescribed InVita, Adcal-D3, Calcichew, or Fultium by your doctor.